Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Saint Dinette

We stopped for brunch at Saint Dinette on our way home from Stillwater after a wedding there the night before. Once we got into St Paul, it took a bit to figure out where a good place to park would be. We ended up in the ramp for the St Paul Union Depot. At the restaurant there was a short wait for a table, and we ended up sitting at the bar as spots opened up before a table did.
I had the scramble with crimini mushrooms, goat cheese, chive and toast. The eggs were so light and fluffy and I adore goat cheese, so that was the perfect addition to the eggs. I asked for jam for the toast and got a mango pineapple jam that was really excellent.
John had the cheeseburger. This burger has been written about a lot since saint Dinette opened and now I see why. It is two thinner patties, and the meat is so rich, juicy and flavorful. It could not be a better burger.
John also ordered a side of fries. Can’t go wrong with a good crinkle cut fry.

The service was friendly, helpful and great overall. We probably need to go back so I can try the shrimp and grits. Though I’m sure everything else on the menu is perfect as well. Saint Dinette is worth the trip to St Paul.

Saint Dinette
261 5th St E
St Paul, MN 55101
Phone: (651) 800-1415

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Hai Hai

There’s been a lot of buzz around town since Hai Hai opened in Northeast Minneapolis last fall. It is owned and operated by the people that also own Hola Arepa, another popular eatery in South Minneapolis. We tried to arrive early on a Saturday afternoon to beat the crowds, but everyone else had the same idea we did. We just added our names to the wait list and enjoyed a drink while we waited. They do not take reservations and it is not that large of a place, though the back patio will make it quite a big bigger once the weather improves. So, be prepared to wait. We waited about 45 minutes I think.
MSG Margarita So Good 
Lychee Keen
We started with fried wontons filled with cream cheese, chicken liver pate and a side of passion fruit dipping sauce. The chicken liver pate made the flavor very rich and meaty.
Next up, were the water fern cakes. I wasn’t sure what we were ordering here, but I had heard these were a must try. They are steamed rice cakes with mung bean, ground pork, crispies, scallion oil, nuoc cham and Thai chili. Essentially, these are rice in a bowl, with a bunch of stuff on top and they are quite delicious. The toppings add a ton of flavor and texture and overall it is a light and flavorful snack. They really are a must try item!
Next up was the fried Brussels sprouts from the vegetables section of the menu. They are cooked with nam jim herb vinaigrette, roasted green chile paste, pork belly and puffed rice. The pork belly added an earthy flavor to the fresh and flavorful brussel sprouts. These were excellent and not spicy or anything, just very flavorful.
Next, we went with the sugarcane shrimp under the assembly required section of the menu. These are shrimp mousse cooked on sugarcane skewers with lettuce, herbs, rice noodles, peanuts and nuoc cham. Somehow, I missed the fact that this was shrimp mousse and not whole shrimp. The shrimp mousse ended up tasting a bit fishy. This wasn’t my favorite item of the night.

We really enjoyed Hai Hai and thought it was a fun dining experience with new and interesting foods, to us anyway. The cocktails are excellent and we found the service to be willing to offer menu suggestions and help whenever needed. The place is mobbed and busy, so I don’t imagine lingering is encouraged, but we didn’t feel rushed at all. The busy atmosphere ended up feeling fun and festive. I think we need to return and try a few more items on the menu like the crepe and the fried rice.

Hai Hai
2121 University Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
Phone: (612) 223-8640

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Kenwood Restaurant

We’ve been meaning to visit the Kenwood for some time now, but it always feels like it is out of the way. Turns out it is rather conveniently located near Lake of the Isles and not far off 394. Of course we visited for breakfast, because brunch is the best.

I had the Huevos Rancheros with pork, potatoes, fried egg and harissa. Some avocado and jalapenos were also on the plate to add flavor as needed. This was amazing. The pork was tender and juicy and the harissa added a bit of spice if you needed it, as did the jalapenos. This looked impressive and it really is a must try at the Kenwood.

John had the simple breakfast with rosemary potatoes, bacon and scrambled eggs. This was a pretty basic breakfast, though it was all very well done, with fluffy eggs and think perfectly crisped bacon.
He also tried the pancake with black walnut better. The pancake was a fluffier pancake than we usually prefer, but this had excellent flavor and a nice crispness on the edges too. Yum.

We ended up sitting at the counter to reduce our wait time a bit as this is not a large restaurant. It was a little chilly when the door opened and closed, but not bad as the kitchen was in front of us and provided heat. The service was good and we really enjoyed all of the food. They really do great things with even the most basic of breakfast items. I want to go back and see what they do with lunch and dinner foods.

The Kenwood
2115 W 21st St
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Phone: (612) 377-3695

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Peg's Countryside Cafe

Peg's Countryside Cafe is one of those places that used be out in the sticks, but now it's in the suburbs. But it seems to have remained the same for many years. It is a a tiny place, in what looks like an old house with a couple rooms for seating and a tiny kitchen on the side. The walls are plastered with country themed knick knacks and photos of long-time customers. We arrived rather early on a Sunday morning and were seated immediately.

John had the Rancher's breakfast with toast, eggs, meat and hash browns. The blueberry wild rice sausage was a bit gimmicky- it was a little sweet and sort of bland. It was interesting try try anyway.
The pancakes were very sweet- fairly light and fluffy though. 
I had the 2 x 2 x 2 with a side of hash browns. The bacon was very good; thick and crispy. The hash browns were ok and the eggs were as ordered.

The service was quick and efficient and the prices are quite affordable. The tables are wedged into the space, so you get to know your neighbors whether you want to or not. I'm not sure the food stands out enough to make the trip across town, but if you live nearby, it is a great option.

Peg's Countryside Cafe
842 Hwy 55
Hamel, MN 55340
Phone: (763) 478-6869

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Hot Plate

Hot Plate is one of those cute, quirky places- lots of fun vintage games piled up by the waiting area and tons of stuff on the walls to look at. It isn't a large restaurant, so be prepared for a bit of a wait. I think we waited about 25 minutes for a table.

The walls are covered in kitsch- paint by numbers pictures mostly, lots of crazy thrift store type finds.
John had the pancakes with a side of bacon. The pancakes were quite good- very light and fluffy. The bacon was crispy and delicious.
I had the Bloomington sandwich on grilled sourdough with asiago, Swiss and cheddar, bacon, soft scrambled eggs and griddled with 100% pure Maple syrup. The syrup added just a touch of sweetness. This was a hearty and tasty breakfast sandwich, I wasn't bananas about their breakfast potatoes- they were fine, but not particularly memorable.

The food is good quality with some fun, interesting menu items. The service is quick and efficient. There isn't a lot of time to chat. They are trying to get you in and out as quickly as possible, without rushing you through the meal, which is OK since you can see the next round of people waiting for tables.

Hot Plate
5204 Bloomington Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55417
Phone: (612) 824-4794

Friday, April 20, 2018

St Genevieve

Stephanie and I decided to try St Genevieve in Minneapolis for our latest dinner adventure. It is a French bistro style cafe- very cute, very small. Reservations were not that difficult to get a few days in advance though. It opened min-2016, so it has taken us awhile to get around to this one.

frites with bernaise - very fresh and crisp
celery soup
oysters - cute presentation
sauces for oysters
scallop and squash
agnolotti - this is basically a type of filled pasta- very good. 
skate wing - unusual, it was a light fish, not at all fishy or strongly flavored. 
chocolate brownie
panna cotta

The service was excellent throughout our visit, very attentive, very helpful, very friendly. We enjoyed everything we ordered. It is hard to pick a favorite item we had- I think the scallop was very good and the skate wing was something I'd never tried before and it was delicious. The menu changes often though, I suppose based on seasonal availability of items. The experience overall was wonderful, a relaxing experience and delicious food made for a fun evening.

St Genevieve
5003 Bryant Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55419
Phone: (612) 353-4843

Monday, April 16, 2018

Young Joni & Back Bar

We'd been wanting to back to Young Joni, but getting in is not easy. We decided to try going early and getting a spot at the bar. No such luck, the bar was full when we arrived, but we put our names on the list and headed to the back bar to try getting in there.

The Cocktail Formerly Known as Paisley Park

The wait to get into the back bar was only 10 minutes or so and we enjoyed waiting there until our table in the restaurant was ready. I think we waited 75-90 minutes total. The drinks at the back bar were excellent too.
The cauliflower includes shishito peppers, saffron chermoula, pickled fresno, golden raisins, almond picada and cauliflower yogurt.
Basque pizza topped with Spanish chorizo, mozzarella, goat cheese, piquillo pepper, red onion, Castelvetrano olives and preserved lemon.
whole fish with one piece was branzino, which was a special. was very light, flaky and delicious.  

The service was excellent and the food was amazing. The pizza is perfect and the fresh, whole fish is great. Don't be afraid to try a whole fish! The cauliflower is spicy, sweet and creamy, so many good flavors. There's a reason Young Joni is insanely busy and popular. It's worth the trouble to get in.

Young Joni
165 13th Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
Phone: (612) 345-5719

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

JW Marriott Bloomington and Cedar + Stone Urban Table

Michele, Kelly and I spent a weekend at the Mall of America JW Marriott to celebrate Michele's birthday a little early this year. I think we are on our 3rd annual MOA girls weekend as of this year. It is always fun to get away even if it is just for one night. We have lots of fun shopping, dining and just spending time with each other.
This year we stayed at the JW Marriott. (Last year was the Radisson Blu.) Kelly booked us in a suite this year! It was a large room with two rooms plus a gigantic bathroom.
Huge bathroom!

TV in bedroom
living room
Nice view of the airport and the MOA parking lots.
We had brunch before we checked out at the Cedar + Stone restaurant. I had the fried egg sandwich with candied bacon, white cheddar, garlic aioli, english muffin loaf. The breakfast potatoes were a mixture of potato types and actually quite good, probably because sweet potatoes were included.
biscuits and gravy
cedar and stone breakfast

The food and service at Cedar + Stone were both excellent, though a bit slow at the outset. It was busy and they explained it would be a bit until they could take out order. But our order was taken pretty quickly, so it was a bit odd we were told that.

We also enjoyed happy hour in the bar on Saturday afternoon while we waited for our suite to be ready. Oddly, it wasn't ready until 5pm, but we enjoyed drinks and apps in the bar a lot. Also, the shower did not drain, so that was not great either. Think they also forgot to come and setup the sofa bed for Kelly, we had to call and request it. The hiccups were a bummer, but the room looked nice anyway. I'm not even sure if Kelly mentioned the issues at the front desk.

JW Marriott
2141 Lindau Ln
Minneapolis, MN 55425
Phone: (612) 615-0100

Thursday, April 5, 2018

O'Cheese Grilled Cheese Shop

The O'Cheese food truck recently became a permanent skyway spot. It opened to huge lines and excitement from fans. I waited a few weeks until things seemed to calm down a bit and went early. The lines are a bit confusing as the order line and waiting area are next to one another in a small space.

I tried the Not-so-Classic with sharp cheddar, havarti, dubliner irish cheddar on white bread with a side of tomato soup. The tomato soup was very good- rich and flavorful. The sandwich was pretty good, there is almost too much cheese on it, if that is possible. It was very cheesy and gooey. The key to the best flavor is to dip the grilled cheese into the soup for the perfect combination of salty and savory.

I think if the food truck had enough fame the skyway spot could thrive. And maybe some new menu items down the line would be interesting as well. Either way, new places in the skyway for lunch options are always welcomed in my book.

705 S Marquette Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Phone: (612) 568-5737

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Rabbit Hole

I've heard a lot about Rabbit Hole from various media sources, best wings, excellent chef and such, but we had not made time to visit. We should have gone a long time ago. The menu is interesting and fun and the beer list and cocktails are great too.

I had the poke mon, this was the rice with fish flakes. 
The fish and other items were in another bowl- Hawaiian Style marinated salmon sashimi, avocado, mango, and wakame. This was a great poke bowl- the fish was fresh tasting and the accompaniments were great additions.
The "wangs" or wings often make the best of lists in the area. And they certainly were tasty with a flavorful sauce and crisp exterior and juicy interior. The Singapore chili sauce was quite salty though. I'd try another sauce next time.
John had the California sub, which was more along the lines of a sorta with fried chicken, avocado, pickled onion, pico de gallo, bacon, avocado crema, jalapeƱo hot sauce and served with house cut fries. The fries were excellent, freshly cut and crisp. John loved the sandwich, it was super flavorful and perfect all around. 

The food was great and the service was good as well. I'd like to return and try some of the other menu times as the tacos and bop bowls sound great.

Rabbit Hole
920 E Lake St Suite 101
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Phone: 612) 236-4526